It's spring, and I've been hard at work completing the Gastronomica story for the 15th Anniversary issue for Trend Magazine, to be published this summer.
As I pause from editing photographs, I'm tempted to look back at the images I created for last issue's Gastronomica, featuring Chef Charles Dale and his new restaurant, Bouche.
Following is an excerpt from the story I wrote to accompany the images:
It’s early evening at 451 West Alameda, and Charles Dale surveys the room. The space is intimate for a restaurant, seating 36 in a building more than 70 years old. It was once a grocery store, once the restaurant Aqua Santa, and is now the stage on which Bouche Bistro entertains. Dale is at the helm of the open kitchen, framed by the reflective steel of ovens and range and the brilliant copper service table before him.
His perspective is part logistics, part preference. Dale, who was born in France and pals around with luminaries such as Jacques Pepin, made significant upgrades to the essentials of the kitchen and aesthetic revisions to the entrance floor and the booths that border the room. However, he had no desire to change the overall blueprint and even commissioned hand-aged furniture by local craftsman to match the original wooden plank floor and maintain the overall ambiance of a historic dining area.
But Dale is also in that precise position because he is both chef and restauranteur. From his location in the kitchen, he can see everything–from the first patron of the evening as he enters the door, to the expression on the face of a diner after her first taste of the meal. The room is his instrument, and he pays careful atten- tion to the pitch and tone, tuning flavors, lighting, and pairings to curate the quintessential evening meal.